As the tussle between Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and its shareholder Invesco has moved to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), the tribunal reserved its order on the media firm’s plea on Thursday and is likely to pronounce it later in the day.
This comes a day after Zee moved the NCLAT seeking more time to file a reply over the requisition of minority shareholders Invesco and OFI Global China Fund to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).
During the hearing, Zee told the tribunal that National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has allowed it only 36 hours to file a reply and claimed that this is not a simple matter that can be disposed of in this fashion.
“We had sought only one week to file a reply, heavens won’t fall. NCLT thought allowing us 36 hours to file a reply was adequate to meet the ends of justice. Sec 98 has been misread, there’s no timetable on the tribunal to decide the issue,” Zee claimed, adding that it is a “gross violation” of the principle of natural justice.
Advocate Mukul Rohatgi representing Invesco said that it is absurd to say that a meeting for over two lakh public shareholders of Zee will be called on an ad-interim basis.
Taking a dig at Zee for moving the Bombay High Court and then NCLAT over the issue, Invesco said, the media firm moved a suit in the high court with over 400 pages and that is the speed at which it can move.
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“This is a charade, a bogey being raised by Zee, these people are holding the company hostage. It is ironic that Zee can file a plea in NCLAT, file a suit in Bombay HC, but claim that it doesn’t have time,” Invesco said during the hearing.
Invesco requested the tribunal to reject Zee’s plea seeking extra time to file the reply saying what Zee is doing is an abuse of the legal process. “It can find time to file suits, but not to file a reply,” Rohatgi said, adding that the media firm’s appeal before NCLAT is an abuse of judiciary.
NCLAT said it will consider the plea and pass necessary orders in the course of the day. The tribunal has also advised Zee counsels to "apprise the NCLT" that the NCLAT has reserved orders.
Meanwhile, NCLT is also expected to hear the matter today. The tribunal had last week directed Zee’s board to consider Invesco’s requisition to hold the EGM seeking the removal of Managing Director Punit Goenka. Zee, however, had the following day refused to call the meeting calling Invesco’s requisition notice invalid and illegal.
On Tuesday, NCLT directed Zee to submit a reply to the petition filed by Invesco and OFI Global China by Thursday.